Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport that teaches a smaller person how to defend himself against a larger adversary by using leverage and proper technique. The Gracie family, the founders of BJJ, modified judo and traditional Japanese jujutsu to create the art. It contains stand-up maneuvers, but it is most famous for its devastating ground-fighting techniques. Gaining superior positioning—so one can apply the style’s numerous chokes, holds, locks and joint manipulations on an
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opponent—is the key in BJJ.
BJJ’s roots began in the early 1900s. Esai Maeda—the chief of a Japanese immigration colony who was assigned to Brazil—befriended Gastao Gracie. Maeda, a former jujutsu champion in Japan, taught the art to Gracie’s son, Carlos. In 1925, Carlos and his four brothers opened the first jiu-jitsu school in Brazil. Carlos’ younger brother, Helio, adjusted the techniques to suit his small frame, thereby creating Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In the early ’80s, Helio’s ...